31 January 2007


It may be the shortest presidential campaign in history and Joe Biden has himself - and the blogosphere to blame.

Biden started the day by officially telling us on his new Web site what he'd been saying for weeks - he's running for president. No exploratory comittee nonesene. This is it.

Things got trickier after that.

The New York Observer ran a story about Biden in which the Delaware senator criticized the three top dogs in the Democratic race.

Biden attacked his opponents on several fronts, but all three got a blistering for their positions on the Iraq war.

Of Hillary Clinton's plan to cut support for Iraqi troops if no progress is made, Biden was bitingly critical:

"From the part of Hillary's proposal, the part that really baffles me is, `We’re going to teach the Iraqis a lesson.' We're not going to equip them? O.K. Cap our troops and withdraw support from the Iraqis? That's a real good idea."

Of Barack Obama and the war, Biden was dismissive:

“I don’t recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic.”

Of John Edwards, Biden said he just doesn't have a clue about the war:

"John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, 'I want us out of there,' but when you come back and you say, 'O.K., John what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?' Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they" What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period?

Then came the real trouble for Biden. In a comment about Obama, which sounds to me that it was meant to be complimentary but came off looking pretty bad, Biden said the following:

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."


That set off the Faux News folks and Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge.

But it was not only a case of the right wing "opinion leaders' taking Biden's words out of context and having a field day.

The left wing blogsophere chimed in as well. Including Talking Points Memo, Atrios, and the granddaddy of the all - The Daily Kos.

As ABC News reports, Biden spent the day trying to explain his remarks, while - publicly at least - Obama didn't do much the snuff the fire.

Biden went back to the place where the trouble started, The New York Observer explaining his use of the word "clean" in describing Obama.

"My mother has an expression: clean as a whistle, sharp as tack. That's the context."
He also told the Observer that he called Obama, and said Obama didn't seem offended.

"So I called Barack and he said 'Joe you don't have to explain anything to me.'"

"Barack Obama is probably the most exciting candidate that the Democratic or Republican Party has produced, at least since I have been around. And he is fresh, he is new, he is insightful, and I really regret that some have taken totally out of context my use of the word 'clean.'"

I'm not sure if this is up there with Al Campanis, the Los Angeles Dodgers executive who lost his job a few years back for making clueless remarks that were deemed racially insensitive. I'm also not sure it's a Jimmy The Greek moment.

But it very well might have the same effect.

Once the blogosphere and the 24-hour newsertainment networks grab on to something like this, there's no telling where it will go. Much of the blogoshpere is taken up by ideologues who bend and twist the facts to fit their purpose. In this case Biden gave them all too much to work with.

And in a post-macaca world, he should have known better.

30 January 2007


Hillary Clinton leads all Democratic comers in Ohio, according to the latest Quinnipiac poll. And she leads her top GOP challengers as well, by just a little.

In the poll, Clinton is well ahead of the pack among Democrats at 38%. Barack Obama is second at 13% and John Edwards is third at 11%.

Giuliani leads McCain among Republicans, 30% to 22%, with Newt Gingrich polling third at 11%. Mitt Romney is left in the dust at 4%.

As in a few recent polls, the top Democrats dominate one-on-one faceoffs with Republicans.

Clinton tops Giuliani by three points and McCain by four.

Edwards also leads McCain, by three points. But McCain is ahead of Obama by three points.

For whatever reason there is no one-on-one matchup between Giuliani and either Obama or Edwards.

A Survey USA poll shows Rudy Giuliani (33%) and John McCain (32%) in a virtual tie in New Hampshire, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney polling a strong third at 21%. All the other GOP candidates share the remaining 11%.

Among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton leads at 40%, while Barack Obama and John Edwards are tied for second place at 25%. Nine percent of those polled have another candidate in mind.


The political left has felt, with some legitimacy we might add, that the Democrats were swift-boated and flip-floppered right out of the White House in 2004 (with maybe a little election-day shennanigans thrown in).

They're not about to let it happen again in 2008.

Democracy for America, the grass-roots group that brought Howard Dean's campaign into prominence in '04, has begun a little payback for 2008 already.

They've put together a nearly three-minute blog ad questioning McCain's straight-talker image.

Take a look here.

29 January 2007


Chicago Sun-Times columnist Robert Novak, quoting a source in the Barack Obama camp, reports today that Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanual will back Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination.

If true, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2006 elections would be the only major Illinois pol to favor Clinton over fellow Illinoisan Obama.

Emanual was a key member of the Bill Clinton administration and has been a long-time supporter of both Clintons.

Emanuel has not said who he will back.


The crowds were big, the response enthusiastic, but there is some evidence Hillary Clinton has a way to go in Iowa following her first campaign visit to the early-caucus state.

The Washington Post interviewed a panel of 14 Iowa Democrats who attended a Clinton appearance or two over the weekend, and the reaction to her was decidedly mixed.

The overall sentiment seemed to be that Clinton is tough, smart and not nearly as cold as she is portrayed in the media, though - if you read the comments - she clearly did not seal the deal with many.

28 January 2007


Before Hillary Clinton takes her seat in the Oval Office, she'd like George Bush to clean it up a bit.

Clinton, stumping in Iowa again today, said Bush must have the U.S. out of Iraq before he leaves office in January of '09.

"This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy. .... The president has said this is going to be left to his successor. "I think it is the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it." -- Hillary Clinton as quoted the Associated Press.

The White House called Clinton's remarks a partisan attack that undermines the troops.

Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, a Democratic candidate for president said it is the Bush administration's failed Iraq policies, not the anti-war movement at home, that is emboldening rogue militias in Iraq.

Biden's comments to the Associated Press were made to counter the latest Bush administration propoganda, which alleges the enemy in Iraq is becoming bolder because Americans have become weak-kneed about the war.

"It's not the American people or the U.S. Congress who are emboldening the enemy. It's the failed policy of this president - going to war without a strategy, going to war prematurely." -- Sen. Joe Biden


Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican hopeful for the White House, has opposed Bush on the war from the outset. The Vietnam veteran spoke unscripted, and from the heart this week as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee debated a resolution opposing Bush's troop escalation. Hagel challenged every senator to take a vocal, visible stand one way or the other, reminding them that they are dealing with "real lives."

Newsweek has a profile of Hagel, and his rebel bid for the presidency, in this week's issue.


Although it won't be officially, officially official until tomorrow when he files the papers, fomer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced today on Meet the Press he will be running for president.

(If you click on the above link you'll have to sit through a 30-second commercial and about one minute of NBC's self promotion before you get to Huckabee- just a warning).

Huckabee told NBC's Tim Russert he's running because America "needs positive, optimistic leadership to turn the country around, to see a revival of our national soul."


While Huckabee is one of a half-dozen or more Republicans trying to convince the party's base that he is the one, true conservative running for the '08 nomination, it was Jeb Bush who turned on the right-wing set yesterday at the Conservative Summit in Washington.

Former head of the RNC Ed Gillespie told the Washington Post Bush has only one thing stopping him from being a top-notch candidate for the GOP nomination - his last name.

"If he were former two-term governor Jeb Smith, he might be in Des Moines today."


It's been quite some time since the political parties have going to their national conventions without knowing who they would be nominating for president when it was all said and done.

Most pundits think the front-loaded primary season we will see early next year will bring about a nominee earlier than ever before. But Newsweek's Jonathan Alter said the jammed primary calendar might actually prolong the nominating season and could result in a old-fashioned nominating convention. Alter said momentum can carry a dark horse through a truncated primary season.

"If the time period after an early primary win is short enough, momentum can often propel a candidate to victory in states where he has nothing else going. I remember landing in Atlanta with Gary Hart in 1984, a few days after he shocked Walter Mondale in New Hampshire. A Hart staffer met the plane and I asked him how big an operation they had in Georgia. "You're looking at it," he said. Hart nearly took Georgia anyway, and he won Ohio, Florida, California and other states on a shoestring. -- Jonathan Alter of Newsweek

Conversely, he says, gaps in the primary schedule work against underdogs who have built up momentum.

"The same thing goes for McCain in 2000. He thrashed George W. Bush in New Hampshire and seemed headed for the nomination. But 18 long days lay between New Hampshire and South Carolina, enough time for Bush to claw (and slime) his way back." -- Jonathan Alter of Newsweek

27 January 2007


Newsweek has a new poll out on a wide range of issues, including presidential preferences for 2008.

The poll has a series of one-on-one matchups involving the top three candidates from both parties - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards for the Dems and Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney for the Republicans.

The Dems win eight of the nine matchups, with Edwards the only Democrat to come out on the losing end in one matchup - by one point to Rudy Giuliani.

Clinton and Obama top McCain by six points, while Edwards finished 4 points ahead of the Arizona senator.

All three Democrats trounce Mitt Romney, with Edwards polling the strongest against the former Massachusetts governor. Edwards beats Romney by 34 points.

Giuliani puts up the stiffest fight against the top three Dems, losing to Obama and Clinton by three points and defeating Edwards by 1.

Just FYI, the current holder of the office has an approval rating of 30 in the Newsweek poll.


Clinton made her first campaign visit to Iowa today, and from the reports you'd never know she was fourth in the polling there behind Edwards, Obama and favorite-son candidate Tom Vilsack.

Clinton played to an enthusiastic, overflow crowd at a "town hall" appearance at a local high school, where, according to The Politico's Roger Simon, she ducked a question about Iraq.

Clinton met with a few dozen Iowa politicos separately as well, an event open to only one "pool" reporter - in this case The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes. In that meeting, according to the report, Clinton didn't repudiate her 2002 vote to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq. But hinted she'd like to have that one back.

“I’ve taken responsibility for my vote. But there are no do-overs in life. I wish there were. I acted on the best judgment I had at the time. I said this was not a vote for preemptive war. The president took my vote, and others’ votes, and basically misused the authority we gave him.” -- Sen. Hillary Clinton in Iowa


The other presidential candidate from New York, Rudy Giuliani was in New Hampshire today where he addressed about 500 Republicans at a party convention. (George Pataki doesn't count because virtually no one takes him seriously and Mike Bloomberg would count except he keeps insisting he won't run).

Hotline described the reception as "subdued," though I saw a clip on TV and there seemed to be some enthusiasm in the room. Giuliani continued to insist he hasn't made up his mind about running yet.

26 January 2007


Mike Huckabee, the former Republican governor of Arkansas, will officially announce plans to form a presidential exploratory committee on Monday, the Associated Press reports.

Huckabee, 51, was born in Hope, Ark. - a place that might remind you of another former Arkansas governor who went on to the White House.

Huckabee was governor for 10 1/2 years - forced out by term limits.

A number of second-tier presidential candidates have been making news lately.

Here's a wrap-up.

Iowapolitics.com reports former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thomson, running for the GOP nomination, has a three-pronged plan for Iraq:

1. separate the country into three distinct governments - Sunni, Shia and Kurds
2. Iraqis request continued U.S. presence there
3. one-third of all oil revenues should be given back to Iraqi citizens
Rep. Duncan Hunter of California announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination Thursday. Today, the Boston Globe reports Hunter was the first to hit the airwaves in New Hampshire with a TV ad.
Hotline reports all signs point to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee officially announcing his presidential bid this weekend. He has a national TV appearance lined up, followed by a series of stops in Iowa next week.

It appears Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign is getting the early boo$t from John Kerry's decision not to run.

The New York Times reports most of the Kerry financial backers who have already committed to a new candidate have gone to the Obama camp.
Among them is Orin Kramer, a prominent New York Democratic fundraiser, who has contributed in the past to Sen. Hillary Clinton's senate campaigns
The Times also reports Al Sharpton, a former presidential candidate and a major voice in New York politics and New York City's black community, is fishing for a candidate to support. The Times reports Sharpton met yesterday with Obama, Clinton, Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Joe Biden. The paper reports Sharpton plans to also meet with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards.

Fresh off his highly publicized rebuke of the Bush administration's war policy at a committee hearing earlier this week, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel told the Washington Post he's talking with people who matter to him about a bid for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

Hagel is wildly unpopular with party regulars because of his maverick career.

Could that lead to an independent candidacy?

Hagel joked during the interview about teaming up with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a moderate Republican, and also floated the possibility of joining a bipartisan unity ticket with a Democrat -- with his name first, of course. -- Washington Post

A position as the anti-war Republican seems to be a more-likely bet.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain lead their respective parties in a presidential preference poll published in the Time magazine that hit the stands today.

Clinton tops Sen. Barack Obama 40% to 21%, while former V.P. candidate John Edwards is third at 11%.

The bright spot for Obama is his opportunity to improve those numbers as voters get to know him. Only 51% of those polled said they know enough about Obama to make a decision on him one way or another. But his "net favorability" rating (those who like him versus those who don't) among those who know him is +47.

Clinton is known by 94% of those polled, so she has little room to pick up new support. And her "net favorability rating is just +17.

On the GOP side, McCain has a four point lead of Giuliani (30% to 26%). However, Giuliani's "net favorability" rating is +68 compared with McCain's +45.
In one-on-one pairings, McCain and Clinton are dead even at 47% and McCain tops both Edwards and Obama by 7 points.


Time has two other articles on 2008 this week that are worth looking at. In one piece Time examines the factors behind the early start to the '08 race and the role that early start may have in setting candidate agendas and deciding their fate. The other piece examines eight keys to the '08 race.
Meanwhile, Rolling Stone looks at Al Gore and why he should run, why he likely will run and why he stands a strong chance of winning the Democratic nomination in '08 - but only if he maintains is his post-2000 persona as doesn't revert to the wonkish bore who ran last time.

Rolling Stone may see good things for Gore, but he's nowhere to be found on "The Fix" top-five list.
Each week Washington Post politcal blogger/reporter Chris Cillizza ranks the top five candidates for each party in the 2008 presidential race.
Not much change this week, although Barack Obama has moved into a second-place tie with John Edwards and Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback moved up to No. 4 on the GOP list, dropping Newt Gingrich to fifth.

25 January 2007


Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani sit atop their respective parties in an Iowa presidential preference poll released last night by Strategic Vision.

Edwards tops the Democrats at 25%, while Barack Obama is second at 17%, favorite-son Tom Vilsack is third at 16% and Hillary Clinton rounds out the top tier at 15%. No one else is even close to double digits.

On the GOP side, Giuliani leads John McCain 25% to 21%. Newt Gingrich is next at 13%, followed by Mitt Romney at 8% and Chuck Hagel at 7%.

Clinton will be in Des Moines this weekend - her first trip to the state in quite some time.
Des Moines Register political columnist David Yepsen has some advice for the New York Senator - come by a little more often and expect to do a lot of one-on-one campaigning.

24 January 2007


John Edwards today took out a full-page in Roll Call, a newspaper for inside-the-Beltway types, urging Congress to block the president's so-called "surge" of troops in Iraq.

The New York Times' Web site quoted from the ad, with Edwards urging Congress to step up.

“Members of Congress: You have the power to block this escalation,” the advertisement said. “Use it.” --John Edwards in Roll Call ad.

Edwards, by the way, will try his hand at online chatting tonight.


Another insider newspaper, The Hill, had a story about use of the Senate Web site and what it might (probably doesn't) say about the upcoming presidential elections.
The Hill reports that 12% of those who visit the www.senate.gov Web site go to Obama's page on the site. Hillary Clinton's site is the second-busiest, with 7% of the hits. Clinton's numbers got a boost from 4% since she announced her presidential intentions. John McCain is at 2%, and the number of hits on his site has dimished as his popularity as a presidential candidate wanes a bit.

John Kerry confirmed today he is not running for Democratic nomination for president in 2008. The Boston Globe broke the story late this morning, citing sources, and Kerry made it official on the Senate floor this afternoon.

Kerry said he would stay in the Senate to fight President Bush's plans to escalate U.S. involvement in Iraq and to force the president to get all troops out of that country by early next year.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chock full of presidential candidates, passed a non-binding resolution opposing the so-called troop "surge" this afternoon.

The Kerry story came at midday, giving the 24-hour "news" channels something to talk about. But how important is it really?

Kerry barely moved the meter in the presidential preference polls, and after sticking his foot in his mouth for the umpteenth time a couple of days before last November's election (remember the "botched joke"), no one in the Democratic Party really wanted to nominate the Massachusetts senator again.

Since the November incident it's been clear Kerry would not garner much support for a presidential bid. It's to his benefit, though long overdue, that he realized it.

Earlier this week we posted results of the latest ABC News-Washington Post presidential preference poll, which showed Hillary Clinton far out in front of Barack Obama in the Democratic race and Rudy Giuliani with a seven point lead over John McCain on the GOP side.

Today, blogger/reporter Chris Cillizza - who publishes the Post's political blog The Fix - takes a closer look at the numbers that weren't broken out when the poll was released.

Both frontrunners do well in all sub-groups, but Cillizza found some spots of strength or weakness for Clinton and Giuliani.

Non-white voters prefer Clinton (56%) over Obama (16%). A little surprising since Obama is black and African Americans make up the largest share of the subgroup.

Clinton does better than Obama among women, but that advantage is decidedly smaller among married women and women who are Clinton's contemporaries. The New York senator does much better than Obama among young and unmarried women.

As for Giuliani, he polls stronger than McCain among conservatives,though he is seen by the pundits as the most-liberal of the GOP candidates.

And, according to Cillizza, Rudy is a big hit with the ladies - at least as a presidential choice. Perhaps a little surprising given the messy, public divorces Giuliani has been through.

23 January 2007


(Updating with commentary about Clinton's on-line chats)

The Politico reports that rather than cede the support of African American voters and donors to Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton will make a concerted effort to win their backing.

According to the new online political news site, Clinton is hoping to force Obama's hand by making a strong push at the African American vote.

As Politico reporter Ben Smith put it:

"It's a strategy that pushes Obama to decide just how black he can afford to be: Will he pitch himself to African-American voters as the black candidate, or hew to the post-racial line that's helped make him sensationally popular with white Democrats?"


The Manchester Union Leader reports Clinton has accepted the state Democratic Party's invitation to appear at the party's biggest annual fundraiser, the 100 Club, scheduled for March 10.


Clinton will hold her second on-line chat in two nights tonight at 7:00 PM EST. The first was last night. In reading the transcript from last night, one is reminded of the "public forums" President Bush subjects himself to once in a while, with handpicked guests asking vetted questions.

Here's an example from Clinton's chat last night:

"Our next question is from Matty in New York. Matty says, I am a 14-year-old class president from Armonk, New York. I have an interest in politics and one day aspire to be President. My question is what made you so inspirational, and why do you believe you should be President?"

Tough crowd!

The Washington Post reports the chats are part of a concerted effort by the Clinton campaign to humanize their candidate who often comes off as stiff, rehearsed and impersonal.

Here's the video from the senator's chat last night.

Is it just me, or does the senator come off as rehearsed and impersonal and trying really hard not to be stiff?


I guess this is good news for Mitt Romney.

Roll Call reports the former Massachusetts governor and current GOP presidential candidate will be endorsed by Dennis Hastert, the former House Speaker who presided over one of the most reviled Congresses in history.



Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner told the Associated Press he is sticking by his earlier decision not to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in '08. Warner has recently been dogged by rumors that he might reconsider an earlier decision and get in the race.


Watching his poll ratings sag as the death toll in Iraq mounts, Arizona Sen. John McCain appears to be trying to distance himself a bit from his support of the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq.

McCain told The Politico he blames Vice President Cheney for what McCain called the "witch's brew" of a "terribly mishandled" war.

McCain also told the new on-line politicial news site that Donald Rumsfeld will rank in history among the worst of the country's defense secretaries.

The GOP presidential hopeful also said the U.S. could be on the "verge" of defeat in Iraq and that he is not at all sure the so-called troop surge will be large enough to make a difference.

McCain also, for the first time, said the U.S. might have to consider redeploying its troops to Iraq's borders to keep outsiders from making the situation in Iraq worse.

22 January 2007


Fearing the race will be all but over by the time their residents vote, California and Florida are taking steps to move up their presidential primaries.

In California, the state legislature is considering a plan to move up the 2008 primary to Feb. 3 from June 5.

Menawhile an effort is underway in Florida to move up that state's primary from the first week of March to a date within seven days of the New Hampshire primary, set for Jan. 22.

In addition to New Hampshire, the Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary are all set for January.

The anticipated moves by Florida and California would probably bolster the candidates with the most cash, since California and Florida are expensive places to campaign in. Plus it would require more criss-crossing of the country.

But, by adding California and Florida to the early mix, we'd be getting a better read on how a candidate would do in a general election, since their populations are much more diverse than in any of the other early primary states.

It wouldn't hurt to throw an industrial Midwestern state like Ohio or Michigan into the earlier primary season to truly get reading of what the electorate is thinking.

Adding variety, and validity to the early primaries is long overdue. Residents of New Hampshire and Iowa will bitch and moan about tradition and their right to be first. But the truth is those states are not good measures of the country as a whole and the current primary system does not serve most Americans well.

If they can move the Browns out of Cleveland and if they can tear down and replace Yankee Stadium we could certainly afford to lose the "tradition" that comes with allowing two small, ethnically vanilla states decide our presidential candidates for us.


John Edwards is the only leading Democratic candidate to beat both of the GOP presidential frontrunners in the latest Newsweek poll.
The poll pitted the top three Democratic contenders (Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) one-on-one against the top two Republicans in the race (John McCain and Rudy Giuliani).
McCain loses against all three Democrats while Giuliani takes two out of three one-on-one matchups against the Dems.

  • Edwards 48%, McCain 43%

  • Edwards 48%, Giuliani 45%

  • Clinton 48%, McCain 47%

  • Giuliani 48%, Clinton 47%

  • Obama 46%, McCain 44%

  • Giuliani 47%, Obama 45%

21 January 2007


New Yorkers Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani lead their respective parties in the latest presidential preference polling by ABC News and the Washington Post.

Clinton has a more-than-two-to-one lead among the Dems. Here' are the numbers


  • Hillary Clinton 41
  • Barack Obama 17
  • John Edwards 11
  • Al Gore 10
  • Kerry 8

    The GOP side is a bit closer, at least at the top, with Giuliani holding a seven point lead over John McCain.

  • Rudy Giuliani 34
  • John McCain 27
  • Mitt Romney 9
  • Newt Gingrich 9

    In one-on-one matchups, Clinton would beat Giuliani by two points and McCain by five, while Obama would top McCain by two but finds himself four points behind Giuliani.

    It's all in fun and there's no scientific validity to it, but I'm sure you've noticed our on-site preference poll. For the past two months we had a list of ten hopefuls. Here's how you voted over that period:

    John Edwards 33%
    Barack Obama 24%
    Al Gore 22%
    Rudy Giuliani 9%
    Hillary Clinton 4%
    John McCain 2%
    Joe Biden 2%
    Chuck Hagel 2%
    Mitt Romney 0%
    Condoleezza Rice 0%

    We've updated our list a bit and started a new poll. We've dropped Rice and added Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Bill Richardson, Tom Vilsack and Dennis Kucinich. Take a look at cast a vote for the fun of it.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson officially announced today he is forming an exploratory committee as a first step in his bid to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2006.

Richardson made the announcement on ABC's "This Week."
Richardson says he can be competitive with the big dogs in raising money and his status as a governor - with executive experience - will serve his well in the campaign.

20 January 2007


The hottest topic for discussion while we were busy elsewhere this week was the president's push for more troops.

All the Democratic presidential candidates weighed in this week as being against the so-called "surge" (or escalation of hositilities if you aren't using Bush- or MSM-speak). But each candidate took a stance that was a bit different from that of their rivals.

The Senate passed a non-binding resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden of Delaware and GOP candidate Chuck Hagel of Nebraska were among the chief sponsors of the bi-partisan resolution. Kansas Senator Sam Brownback - also a Repulican candiate for president - voted in favor of the rebuke of the "surge" plan.

But some of the other Democrats in the race for the White House took things a step further.

Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton got most of the media attention for their individual calls to limit troop levels in Iraq, in an attempt to thwart Bush's plan.

Clinton's plan would limit troops in Iraq to their levels as of Jan. 1 and establish benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet or face cuts in U.S. funding for Iraqi security forces. The plan would also require the U.S. government to show specific measures of progress or face a new vote by Congress to re-authorize the war. Clinton also said if more troops were to be sent somewhere, they ought to be sent to Afghanistan, where the Taliban is making a major comeback.

Obama put forth a similar plan a day later, but his called for a redeployment of some U.S troops within two to four months.

Both Obama and Clinton also called for a phased withdrawal of troops.

John Edwards challenged his former Senate collegues to not only call for troop limits but to cut off funding for the proposed troop increase. In addition, Edwards called for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 troops, to force Iraq and others in the region to come up with a political solution to the fighting there.

Though Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd also has proposed a plan that could require re-authorization of the war, his is not based on anyone meeting any benchmarks. Dodd argued the 2002 authorization was obsolete because the reasons given for the war then are obsolete.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, the first to formally announce his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination, yesterday dismissed the calls for a cap on the troops and instead called for a refusal to fund new troop deployments and removing U.S. troops from Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Cleveland-area Congressman Dennis Kucinich has, for some time, called for Congress to cut off funds for the Iraq war alltogether. Earlier this week, Kucinich - very publicly - received a petition from 1,000 U.S. active-duty troops calling for an end to the war.


Hillary Clinton will get ALL of the media attention, but three candidates are officially getting into the presidential race this weekend. The New York senator announced her long-anticipated campaign today, while Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, a Republican, will announce today as well. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is expected to announce his exploratory committee tomorrow, with the intention of running for the Democratic nomination.

Clinton annoucned today on with a Web site video. Actually, in the video Clinton claims not to be starting a campaign so much as a conversation - a conversation with every American. She says she plans to hold on-line video chats with voters, the first of which will be held Monday.


The Associated Press is reporting that Richardson will announce tomorrow that he has formed an exploratory committee, the first step toward becoming the first Hispanic president. Richardson is scheduled to appear on ABC's "This Week" tomorrow so you might expect an announcement then.


Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback will make his announcement this after noon in Topeka, according to CQ Politics, the online presence of Congressional Quarterly. Brownback will seek to prove to voters - as so many a trying to do - that his is the one "true conservative" in the GOP race.

The real world kept us away from the blogosphere this week, so this appears to be as good a time as any to catch up with the other major candidate who threw his hat into the ring this week - Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. Like Clinton, Obama made his announcement via a video on his Web site.

Obama got strong support from fellow Chicagoan Jesse Jackson.

Jackson, who ran for the presidency himself in 1994 and 1998 says, as a candidate to become the country's first African-American president, Obama will face all the usual pressures and two others - racism and concern for personal safety.

While Jackson appears to be ready to all-but-endorse Obama, The Los Angeles Times reports other black leaders have not been so quick to jump on board, with some looking toward John Edwards instead.

14 January 2007


Signs point to a Barack Obama announcement this week, and it appears that announcement will confirm he intends to run for president.

Politicalwire reports Obama is rumored to be preparing to declare his candidacy on Oprah Whinfrey's show this week.

Ben Smith, one-time reporter and blogger for the (NY) Daily News and about to join a start-up online newspaper in Washington, is reporting on New York political blog Room Eight that Obama has been calling family, friends and likely large donors to tell them he's running.

The Associated Press reports Obama his hired policy, press and research staff for a presidential run.

The Chigaco Tribune today profiles Obama's inner circle.

And the Illinois Democrat has also begun running Web ads.

Another of the top contenders for the Democratic nomination, John Edwards, will take to the pulipt in Harlem this afternoon to discuss the Iraq war and his efforts to get Congress to block funding for President Bush's planned escalation of the war. He'll be speakking at the fabled Riverside Church, where 40 years ago Dr. Martin Luther King urged oppoosition to the Vietnam War.

Edwards has recorded a preview of his speech, and you can watch it live here at 4:00 pm.


The New York Times has a good wrap-up today on where there major presidential candidates of both parties stand on Bush's escalation plan. The story theorizes that Republican John McCain and Democrat Hillary Clinton have taken the most politically precarious positions.

12 January 2007


Sen. Hillary Clinton's stock as a presidential candidate is falling in key early-primary states, while that of her two chief rivals - Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards is on the rise.

The Washington Times reports Clinton's weakness in Iowa (4th in a poll last month) and New Hampshire (in a dead heat with Obama after leading him by 23 points in a previous poll) may have something to do with her less-critical stance on the Iraq war. Analysts interviewed by the Times also say Clinton is just not lighting the fire of the electorate.


The nation's largest political action committee, Emily's List, is ready to get behind Clinton once she announces. The Chicago Sun Times said the pro-abortion PAC is promising very early support for Clinton.
Clinton and two other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee will be heading to Iraq this weekend, where they will be meeting with top Iraqi officials about conditions there. The trio will also meet with top U.S. military officials there and will visit Afghanistan as well.

John Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina and the Democratic nominee for vice-president in 2004, is the 2008 presidential candidate of choice among North Carolina Democrats.
Already showing a lead in Iowa, Edwards leads his home state with 29% support of those polled by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh. Sen. Hillary Clinton (16%) and Sen. Barack Obama (15%) are pretty much tied for second.

Among Republicans, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is ahead at 30%, but Newt Gingrich is essentialy tied with him, at 29%. Sen. John McCain, who's 2000 campaign was derailed in North Carolina by aggressive campaigning (smear tactics) by Karl Rove and crew, is third in North Carolina this time around, at 22%. Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney is a very distant fourth, at 6%.


The (NY) Daily News reports today that Edwards will be spending part of his Martin Luther King Day weekend on Hillary Clinton's turf. He'll be giving a sermon at a church in Harlem on Sunday.


Texas Republican congressman Ron Paul has filed to run for the GOP presidential nomination, according to Hotline On Call. Paul was the 1988 Libertarian Party candidate for president.

11 January 2007


(Updating with other candidates' reaction to Bush plan and new AP-IPSOS poll)

Count Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards among those who see little merit in President Bush's plan to escalate troop deployment in Iraq - also known by Tony Snow and the mainstream media parrots as a troop "surge."

Edwards has sent out an mass e-mail to supporters asking them to sign a petition to get Congress to refuse to provide funding for the troop increase.

"The situation in Iraq demands a political solution -- not an escalation of the war that our generals agree won't help," Edwards said the letter to supporters. "Escalating the war in Iraq sends the wrong message to the Iraqi people, to the region, and the world."

Taegen Goddard's Political Wire has a nice quick summary of the various 2008 presidential hopefuls and where they stand on Bush's escalation of the war.

All the Democrats are opposed and Tom Vilsack has called on Congress to block the extra funding needed to support the troop increase.

All the Republican hopefuls support Bush plan except for Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Hotline On Call had a more comprehensive, some would say exhuastive, recap of the various candidates' comments:

Sen. Barack Obama: "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse: I think it takes pressure off the Iraqis to arrive at the sort of political accommodation that every observer believes is the ultimate solution to the problems we face there" (MSNBC, 1/10.

Tom Vilsack: "It's obvious that the president has only been listening to advisers that agree with him. And I strongly disagree with folks who say this is a change of strategy, this is a new strategy. This is simply the same old strategy with just 20,000 more lives at risk" (Hannity & Colmes, FOX 1/10)

John Edwards: "What's happened is that the trust in the president has eroded. And America has to feel in their gut that whether he's right or wrong the president's telling the truth. And instead of all of the statistics and information that he had in his speech, he should have said, 'The situation is very bad in Iraq right now. We're doing the best we can with a difficult situation." (CNN, 1/10)

Sen. John McCain: "I've been calling for the increases, but I believe that this can succeed. I really do. I believe that it's not just an increase in troops: it's a change in strategy" (FOX, 1/10)

Rudy Giuliani: "You always have to make readjustments when you're at war, and we are at war. ... I think the president did the right thing tonight. And I think the important thing here -- the increase in troops, critical and important, but the most important thing is the change in strategy. (Hannity & Colmes, FOX 1/10)

Mike Huckabee : "I think we have to give the commander-in-chief an opportunity to make this succeed. You said people have said he's stubborn. That's a good quality in an executive. You don't want someone who changes the course of a military every time there's a new opinion poll" (Hannity & Colmes, FOX 1/10)

Newt Gingrich: "There was a humility in tonight's speech. A recognition that some of the things he most wanted had not happened. And that the plans were not working the way he'd hoped for. I thought this was a more contrite and more dedicated George W. Bush saying to the country this is hard problem but we have to get in it together. And I thought in that sense it was a strong speech." (Hannity & Colmes, FOX 1/10)


A poll released yesterday by Rasmussen Reports shows only 31% of Americans support escalating the war in Iraq by sending more troops, while 56% of those polled think we should be reducing troop levels.

The poll also shows that 78% of Americans think U.S. troops will still be in Iraq at the end of this year.


AP-Ipsos released results of a similar poll, with 70% of Americans saying they oppose sending more troops to Iraq and the same number saying they don't think the additonal troops will help.

The poll also indicates that just 35% of Americans now think going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do in the first place (a lowest-ever number on that question) and 60% think it is unlikely a stable, democratic government will be forged in Iraq.

Bush's overall approval rating in this poll was 32% - a new low in AP-Ipsos polling on Bush.

Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd offically announced his bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination this morning.
That is if telling Don Imus on his radio show that you're running is an official announcement.
Actually, Dodd told Imus that he'd officially file later this morning.

We're really late on this, but life sometimes gets in the way of blogging.

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore filed papers (scroll down after you click) to form an exploratory committee as he mulls a run for the GOP nomination.

Gilmore hopes to be the elusive "true conservative" in the race.


Another hopeful for the coveted "true-conservative" niche in the GOP race got some bad news in a recent Rasmussen Reports poll.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is viewed favorably by 29% of those polled and unfavorably by 35%, while 35% say they don't know enough about Romney to have an opinion.
Romney trails all Democrats in head-to-head pairings by Rasmussen.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a likely Democratic candidate is the star of the Rasmussen poll. His favorable/unfavorable rating is 52% to 31% and he leads all the major GOP candidates in head-to-head polling.

07 January 2007


Delaware Sen. Joe Biden made it official today. He's running for president. The Democrat made the announcement on NBC's Meet the Press.

There was no coyness. Just a simple yes I'm running and I'll file the papers by the end of the month.

Biden, the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, no doubt will run on his foreign-policy experience and senior statesman status.


New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has the highest 'favorable' rating in a CBS News poll released over the weekend at 43%. She's also near the top in the 'unfavorable' category, at 38%. Both figures have alot to do with the fact that she is well known to the electorate.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain have the highest rating among Republicans.

The ratings for the last two Democratic presidential nominees, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and former V.P. Al Gore are more negative than positive.

Former Democratic V.P. candidate John Edwards, who has already announced his decision to run, has the second-highest favorable rating amng Democrats at 32%.

Illinois Senator Barack Obama has a 28/10 favorable-unfavorable rating, but more than six in ten Americans say they don't know enough about him to offer an opinion.

Joe Biden, who announced today, is not well-known despite his many years in the Senate. Some 77% say they don't know enough about him to have an opinion.

All other candidates, Democrat and Republican, have "don't know/no opinion" ratings of 85% or higher.

Click here to see the complete PDF of poll results.


Time magazine reports this week the religious right seems to be a cause without a candidate for the 2008 presidential race. With Rick Santorum and George Allen on the scrap heap, Time says evangelicals appear to like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, but have doubts he can win, while they're not too thrilled with the other likely candidates.

05 January 2007


Mitt Romney, an as-yet-undeclared candidate for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination has signed a no-new-taxes pledge waived under his nose by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

Like his evolving positions on gay rights and abortion, the Boston Globe reports today that Romney's position on taking such a pledge has also morphed in recent years.

As governor of Massachusetts, the paper reports, Romney refused to tie his hands by signing a similar pledge but had no qualms about doing so as he positions himself as a conservative for the 2008 campaign.


As the new Congress got under way this week, all eyes were on New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for signs she has made up her mind about her plans for 2008.

Richard French of upstate-New York cable network RNN tried to get Clinton to talk about those plans but found the senator more focused on the present. Clinton told French she sees no real benefit to bumping up the troop levels in Iraq, a move President Bush is expected to announce next week.


Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is said to be ready to announce his decision about an '08 bid for the Democratic nomination "very soon." Chicago TV station WMAQ reports a political insider who has already agreed to work for Obama tipped the station about the impending decision.


Former Wisconsin governor and Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson is putting a lot of his marbles in Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services has pledged to make at least one trip a week into Iowa between now and the GOP caucuses there next January.


While the big ball was droppingt in Times Square the other night, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was serving sushi to a group of New Hampshire GOP pols in his nearby office. The (NY) Daily News reports the out-of-towners came away convinced that Giuliani is running for the Republican presidential nomination.


Columbia, S.C. newspaper The State is reporting that Arizona Sen. John McCain has already bagged the lion's share of endorsements by the state's top GOP campaign donors. Much of McCain's financial team in South Carolina worked with President Bush in the 2000 election. It was Bush's huge win over McCain in the state that set Bush up to win the GOP nomination


Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza, who pens the paper's political blog The Fix, did some Friday handicapping of the 2008 races.

Cillizza puts Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican John McCain at the top of their respective parties' list of hopefuls. No surprise there. But his rankings do offer a bit of the unexpected if you are a poll watcher.

On the GOP side, The Fix puts Mitt Romney - currently faltering in the polls - ahead of Rudy Giuliani. Despite a rough month for Romney, Cillizza says the former Massachusetts governor has a strong organization and enough financial backing to keep him nipping at McCain's heels. On the other hand, Cillizza seems to be with the mainstream pundits who just don't see how the socially liberal Giuliani can win the Republican nomination.

Among Democrats, John Edwards - who is quietly running a very solid early campaign - is listed second, ahead of media sensation Barack Obama. Both Obama and Edwards have drawn large, enthusiastic crowds in recent trips to early-primary states

03 January 2007


Well, we're finally back from the holidays. Hope yours were enjoyable and relaxing.

A few things happened while we were away. Nothing too earthshaking, but we'll go at them from newest to oldest and then get back to up to speed tomorrow.


No surprise here. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, fresh off a family vacation to Utah, formed an exploratory committee, the final step before a full-blown entry into the race. At one point it was reported that Romney would skip the step and jump right in to the race for the GOP presidential nomination.


The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that it obtained a "lost" copy of a 140-page playbook for the Rudy Giuliani presidential campaign. Today, the paper reported that Giuliani claimed the document was stolen. The New York Post, meanwhile, reports the Giuliani people believe the book was pilfered by aides to Florida's new Republican governor Charles Crist during a campaign visit by Giuliani on behalf of Crist. Lost or stolen, The Daily News reports today the incident doesn't reflect well on Giuliani.

Interesting how life does NOT imitate art in this case. If you remember on the final season of the West Wing fictitious GOP presidential Candidate Sen. Arnold Vinick's (Alan Alda) top aide found a briefcase full of sensative documents belonging to Vinick's Democratic opponent Rep. Matt Santos (Jimmy Smitts). After much soul-searching, Vinick gave the briefcase back to Santos without revealing the damaging information it contained.


The folks at Giuliani Blog had an interesting post while we were away. According to the blog, an American Research Group poll of early primary/caucus states shows Giuliani ahead in two of the four races (Iowa and Nevada) and John McCain leading in two others (New Hampshire and South Carolina). The two are not far apart in any of the states.

The surprise here is that former House speaker Newt Gingrich is nipping at their heels in two of the races and finishes a solid third in all four, while Mitt Romney is little more than a blip. Romney has been falling steadily in the polls since his perceived flip-flop on gay issues.


Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama was sitting out the holiday season in Hawaii, trying to stay out of the limelight while he makes a final decision on whether or not to seek the Democratic nomination. But, the Illinois senator was thrust back in the news yesterday, when CNN ran a heading under a story about the fugitive terrorist leader from Saudi Arabia, asking the question "where's Obama?" The Chicago Tribune reports Wolf Blitzer himself called the Illinois senator to apologize for the sticky situation in Wolf's Situation Room.


As Jeb Bush's tenure as governor of Florida was coming to an end a couple of weeks ago, he made an off-handed comment that he had no future in politics. Well, the New York Times reported recently that Bush didn't mean that exactly. While the presidency seems unlikely - since big brother 'W' has botched things so badly - the Times reports rumblings persist that Jeb may be willing to play second fiddle to John McCain on the GOP ticket in 2008.


We saved this for last for today's post only because it is the oldest news we're catching up on. Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards officially announced his candidacy for the party's presidential nomination just after Christmas. Edwards has been drawing huge crowds in his post-announcement tour of early primary states and is the leader in the most-recent Iowa poll.

The Nation's Web site reported recently that Edwards is offering the progressive wing of the party a lot more this time around than he did when he ran in 2004.